Canon PowerShot G15 Review

The PowerShot G15 is the latest advanced serious compact camera from Canon. Daniel Bell reviews.

| Canon PowerShot G15 in Compact Cameras
Canon PowerShot G15 Review: Canon Powershot G15 (4)

The Canon Powershot G15 is the latest serious compact from Canon, and is even smaller than the Canon Powershot G12 it replaces. It is available to purchase now with prices starting at around £500.

Canon PowerShot G15 Review: Canon Powershot G15 (2)

Canon PowerShot G15 Features

The G15 has a 12.1 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor and 5x optical zoom f/1.8-2.8 lens, ideal for shooting in low light and is a 35mm equivalent of 28-140mm. To help counteract shake there is Intelligent IS - a 4-stop optical image stabiliser. For faster shutter speeds in low light you can shoot right up to ISO 12800. For shooting fast moving objects there is quick auto focus and high-speed burst HQ which can record at 10 fps in full resolution.

To make picture taking as easy as possible there is Smart Auto which automatically chooses the correct camera settings from 58 scenes (21 in movies). If you'd prefer more control there are full manual controls, including shutter and aperture priority modes. There are also a number of creative picture taking modes, including miniature, toy camera, fish-eye and more. There is also a High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode, which takes pictures at different exposures and combines them to create a detailed, high-contrast image.

To expand your shooting options there are a range of accessories available which includes a 58mm Lens Filter Adapter, Canon Speedlite flashes and a Waterproof Case for shooting underwater in depths down to 40m.

Videos are recorded in full 1080p HD in stereo with optical zoom and can be connected to a HDTV via a HDMI-CEC connection. The G15 can also shoot high-speed videos.

Canon PowerShot G15 Review: Canon Powershot G15 (5)

Key Features

  • 12.1 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor and HS system
  • 5x optical zoom f/1.8-2.8 lens (35mm equiv: 28-140mm)
  • Intelligent IS
  • 3 inch 920k dot LCD screen
  • Full manual controls and RAW
  • Full 1080p HD
  • ISO 80-12800
  • 1cm minimum focusing distance
  • HDR mode
  • 10 fps continuous shooting at full resolution
Canon PowerShot G15 Review: Canon Powershot G15 (7)

Canon PowerShot G15 Handling

The G15 has an extremely solid, well-built body and is reassuringly heavy. To aid grip there is a rubberised hand grip and rubberised area for your thumb. One of the most notable changes is the lack of the articulating screen, although its size has increased from 2.8 to 3.0 inch as well as doubling the screen resolution to 920k dots. If you prefer to compose your shots via a viewfinder, the G15 has an optical one, it's of decent quality but isn't really well positioned as the camera can rest on your nose. During testing, the images looked a little flat on the screen, but look much better when transfered to a computer.

There are an ample number of buttons to make it quick and easy to adjust the camera settings, on the top is a mode dial and a dial for changing the exposure compensation. On the front is a dial for changing camera setting such as aperture and shutter speed. On the rear is are dedicated buttons for ISO and metering mode as well as menu and function, the latter allows you to change other settings such as white-balance and image size. There is also a star button, you can use this to set your exposure for your subject, then recompose, meaning even if your subject is in the corner of the image, it'll be perfectly exposed. The front and rear dials as well as the S button can be customised from a number of settings including i-contrast and aspect ratio.

If you do have to enter the menu system, it's well laid out and easy enough to understand. To make sure your pictures are straight there is a Dual Axis Electronic Level display helps achieve shots with a straight and perfectly levelled horizon.

Battery life is rated at 350 shots according to CIPA test results, we managed in excess of this and the battery is still showing as full. We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response   0.125 secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response   0.3 secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response   0.3 secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   2.1 secs
Shot to Shot without Flash   2.6 secs
Shot to Shot with Flash   3.2 secs
Continuous Shooting (JPEG)   2.1 fps
Continuous Shooting - Flash (JPEG)   1.0 fps
Continuous Shooting - RAW   0.8 fps
Continuous Shooting - Flash (RAW)   0.4 fps
High-speed Burst HQ   10 fps

All of the continuous shooting mode recorded at full resolution, but for the fastest you need to switch to High-speed Burst HQ although you can't shoot in RAW when using this mode.

Canon PowerShot G15 Review: Canon Powershot G15 (1)

Canon PowerShot G15 Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Canon PowerShot G15 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Images are well exposed with excellent colour reproduction. Portraits have very pleasant skin tones which are free of red-eye when using the flash. To freeze the water movement in the third picture above, we have been able to shoot with the aperture wide open 1/1000 sec at ISO 800. It is worth noting that when shooting with the HDR mode you need to use a tripod as the camera doesn't shoot the required frames quick enough for hand-held HDR shooting.

Canon PowerShot G15 Lens test images

Lens Performance - Detail is excellent throughout the images at both ends of the lens, with an excellent control over purple fringing. Dynamic range is good but can be corrected with three options - auto, 200% and 400% to give you even more detail in the highlights and shadows. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of just 1cm which allows you to get really close for fantastic macro shots with lots of detail.

Canon PowerShot G15 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - Images are noise free at ISO 80 and 100, with only very minor increases when increasing to ISO 200, 400 and 800. At ISO 1600 there is a little softening in places with images at ISO 3200 having some with white dots appearing. At ISO 6400 you see quite a significant loss in image quality, with the whites dots having more of a presence and much softer images produced. At ISO 12800, there's plenty of noise with a fair amount of image detail lost, but it's not all that bad for a compact camera at such a high ISO speed.

Canon PowerShot G15 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - The auto white balance (AWB) doesn't cope well under the incandescent lights, with an orange cast in the image. The incandescent preset does a much better job. When switching to the fluorescent lights, the AWB copes really well. There are two fluorescent preset, white fluorescent preset copes well, the daylight fluorescent preset doesn't do so well, but that's to be expected when indoors.

Canon PowerShot G15 Digital filters

Digital Filters - Creativity options are a plenty on the G15 - there are numerous my colour modes and lots of digital filters, with plenty of examples above.

Video - Below is a video recorded in full 1080p HD and quality is excellent. Head over to the ePHOTOzine Youtube page to see examples using the optical zoom and high-speed video mode.

Value For Money

The Canon PowerShot G15 is available for £529.00. This makes it one of the highest priced serious compacts available and for similar amounts you could also look at entry-level DSLR's and mirrorless compact system cameras. Read our best serious compact cameras article for more information.

Canon PowerShot G15 Review: Canon PowerShot G15 Review: Canon PowerShot G15 Review: Canon PowerShot G15 Review: Canon PowerShot G15 Review:
Fujifilm X10 Samsung EX2F Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 Olympus XZ-2 Nikon Coolpix P7700
£319 £374 £383 £424 £449

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Canon PowerShot G15 Verdict

The G12 has been sitting at the top of our best serious compact cameras article for some time now and we were expecting great things from the G15 and we certainly aren't disappointed. It's scored almost exactly the same, just missing out on value for money as it is more expensive than the G12 was at the time of review, although the price is bound to drop before too long. So if your budget can stretch this far you'll be extremely happy with your purchase.

There are bags of features, in a very sturdy, well-built body and image quality to match. We love the 10 fps continuous shooting and fast f/1.8-2.8 lens. There wasn't much we could find that we didn't like, although if you have a large nose, you might find the optical viewfinder is a little uncomfortable to use. Overall, the Canon Powershot G15 is a pleasure to use and we are happy to highly recommend it.

  Canon PowerShot G15 Review:
  The Canon Powershot G15 packs impressive features, handling and performance into a compact body.

Canon PowerShot G15 Pros

Fast f/1.8-2.8 lens
Full 1080p HD video recording
10 fps continuous shooting at full resolution
Much improved screen resolution
1cm minimum focusing distance
Excellent image quality
Images are usable throughout the ISO range
Plenty of creativity modes

Canon PowerShot G15 Cons

Some may have preferred the articulating screen that the G12 had
Using the optical viewfinder may be a little uncomfortable for some
Price puts it up there with mirrorless cameras and entry-level DSLRs


Canon PowerShot G15 Specifications

Max Aperturef/1.8 - f/2.8
35mm equivalent28mm - 140mm
Optical Zoom5x
Image Sensor
Pixels12.1Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4000
Pixels (H)3000
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor Size1/1.7 inch
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
  • 4:5
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution922,000 dots
Touch ScreenNo
Min Focus1cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Fixed
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest15sec
Bulb modeNo Data
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
  • A
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity80 - 12800
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Flash
  • Underwater
Exposure Comp+/-3
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting10fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
  • 320x240 QVGA
Video FPS30
Stereo SoundNo
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeRechargeable Li-ion Battery NB-10L
Battery Life (CIPA rating)350shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsPowerShot G15 Digital Camera, Battery Pack NB-10L, Battery Charger CB-2LC, Neck Strap NS-DC11, Digital Camera Solution CD

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Photographs taken using the Canon PowerShot G15

Jelly Fish Number TwoJelly Fish 01Southport PierEarly morning visitor coming into landLisbon XXXIOver the Tejo RiverLisbon XXIXDetourFaces of Lisbon IIFaces of LisbonLisbon in Colours XILisbon in Colours XCarefreeLisbon in Colours IXLisbon in Colours VIII

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oldblokeh Avatar
oldblokeh Plus
12 1.2k United Kingdom
23 Nov 2012 1:03PM
£308? are you sure about that? As a grey import, maybe, but shouldn't you be quoting UK prices?
josa Avatar
josa 11 25 Czech Republic
23 Nov 2012 1:19PM
Chech the HDR picture 1/500, f 2.8, there's heavy blur in it
YoBellzaa Avatar
23 Nov 2012 2:12PM
Thanks, the prices should be updated now, slight technical issue.

I've also changed the HDR picture. I shouldn't have included that one as it was taken hand-held and it doesn't shoot the three shots quick enough.
22 Feb 2013 11:01AM
This is one of the finest compact Cameras I have ever used, I carry it ALL the time. Image results are stunning this is an example of what it is capable of:

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